It is important to continue the struggle despite frustrations and disappointment based on an ultimate faith in the triumph of justice Richard Falk | Chairman of Board of Trustees

12 Years of Blockade

Imposed on the Gaza Strip immediately after the Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006, the 12-year Israeli blockade has been devastating the lives of two million citizens, including 1.3 million refugees (about 67% of the total population).

This blockade has caused repetitive humanitarian crises, leaving the coastal enclave in constant shortage of medicine, medical equipment and fuel, in addition to restrictions on movement of residents. Furthermore, Israel's restrictions on the entry of building materials continue to prevent the repairing or reconstruction of Gaza's sole power plant as well as thousands of houses, schools and hospitals that have been destroyed during Israel's offensives on the Gaza Strip.

In addition to the closure of Gaza's crossings, Israel has been imposing strict restrictions on the movement of people and the entry of goods in and out of the Strip, allowing only very small amounts of food, fuel and daily products into the Strip. Such restrictions also include denying patients medical treatment at hospitals outside Gaza and preventing hundreds of Palestinian students from traveling abroad to pursue their academic studies or participate in cultural programs.

Under international law, Israel is an occupying power although it already ‘disengaged’ from the Gaza Strip in 2005; it still continues to control entry and exit from Gaza by land, sea and air. Likewise, it controls Gaza’s population registry, telecommunication networks and many other aspects of daily life and infrastructure. Rather than undertaking its duty in protecting the civilian population in the Gaza Strip, Israel has been placing Palestinians under suffocating blockade, which constitutes an unprecedented form of collective punishment in a stark violation of international humanitarian law.

Lifting the Israel-imposed blockade should be on top of the international community's priorities, in addition to building a sea port to limit Palestinians' aggravating suffering in Gaza to allow them to travel and move freely.

The Deterioration of the Humanitarian Situation and Services

(18-20) hours

of power blackouts per day in the Gaza Strip.

In effect, there has been a decline in electricity supply from 10-12 hours to 6-4 hours per day as a result of the Palestinian Authority's decision to reduce payment of Gaza’s electricity bill to Israel.

60 liters

is the average of water consumption per capita in the Gaza Strip,

while the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization is a daily 100 liters per capita.

6 out of 10

families in Gaza suffer from food insecurity.

97%

of Gaza water is unfit for human consumption.

45% (230 items)

of medicines have been completely absent from the warehouses of Gaza Ministry of Health until January 2018.

28%

of medical equipment has been absent.

50%

of Palestinian children need psychological counseling,

while some 55% of Gaza residents suffer from depression.

Restrictions on Gaza Crossings

Prior to the blockade, the movement of people and goods in and out of the Strip has been possible via six crossings: Erez, Karni, Nahal Oz, Kerem Shalom and Sufa border crossings with Israel, and Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

Since the blockade was imposed, freedom of movement in the Gaza Strip has become a major problem facing every Palestinian citizen wishing to leave the Strip or to come back home. With Egypt continuing closure of Rafah crossing most of the time, Erez crossing has gained significance more than ever before.

In 2017, Israel has denied thousands of Palestinians travel permits through Erez crossing based on security claims, which are too vague. In addition, many applicants traveling through Erez have been deliberately delayed for a long time, generally for further interrogation. In some cases, Israel purposely canceled exit permits already granted to Palestinians.

54%

of medical transfers have been approved for patients to receive medical treatment outside Gaza during 2017, the lowest percent since 2006. In 2016, only 62% of medical transfers were granted.

3,000 traders and businessmen

had their permits to travel through Erez outside the Gaza Strip denied or withdrawn in 2017.

6,000 Palestinians

traveled through Erez on a monthly basis during 2017. In 2016, 12,150 Palestinians were allowed through Erez each month.

36 days

witnessed the opening of Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza during 2017, and 44 days in 2016.

Economic Collapse

Gaza’s economy has been in recession since the beginning of the blockade imposed on the Strip, which included complete closure of all commercial crossings. The impact of the blockade extends to paralyzing the entire economy, especially during the times when Israel launched military attacks on the Gaza Strip. The private sector received the largest share of losses due to the restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on the movement of businessmen and traders. In addition, many companies and private enterprises - which make up the only source of income for a large portion of Gaza population – had also been targeted.

On the other hand, the average number of export trucks leaving Gaza daily before 2006 reached about 70 trucks, while about 583 trucks used to enter the Strip carrying supplies and humanitarian needs on a daily basis.

Most of the goods used to enter through Karni crossing in the northeast of the Gaza Strip, while Nahal Oz crossing, east of Gaza City, was the main fuel line feeding the power plant.

Karni crossing was closed in 2007, Sufa Crossing in September 2008, with most of the goods currently entering the Gaza Strip through Kerem Shalom crossing, which operates only partially.

In the two years following the imposition of the blockade in 2006, the average number of trucks entering the Gaza Strip reached about 112 per day, about one-fifth of the number of trucks allowed into the Strip prior to imposing the blockade. Exports of goods outside the Gaza Strip were then banned, with the exception of a few.

43.6%

of Gaza population has been unemployed until the end of 2017, 62% of whom are youths.

90%

of persons with disabilities are unemployed in the Gaza Strip.

65%

of families have been living in poverty or abject poverty, while those suffering from food insecurity exceeded 72%.

The average number of people living below the poverty line in the Gaza Strip is twice and a half times higher than that of the West Bank.

9,729 truckloads

of goods entered Gaza through Kerem Shalom crossing monthly during 2017, which is 3% less than that recorded during 2016 and 13% less than the monthly average for the first half of 2007.

212 truckloads

left Gaza monthly through Kerem Shalom commercial crossing in 2017, compared to 961 truckloads in the first half of 2007.

Closure of Crossings

All crossings of Gaza are now completely closed, except for Kerem Shalom Crossing, which was shut down for over 30% of the time during 2016.

Israeli Buffer Zone Restricting Farmers’ Work

Israel has imposed a buffer zone surrounding the Gaza Strip and deducting 30% of its agricultural lands for “security reasons”.

As a result, Palestinian farmers have been avoiding work in these lands; investing in these lands has high stakes as Israel prevents access to these lands using live bullets, arrest, razing farmlands, and destroying property. This, in turn, has resulted in heavy losses for farmers in regards to livelihood and basic needs. Those losses include destruction of greenhouses, leveling of agricultural lands, uprooting of trees, and damage to livestock. On the other hand, Israel has been increasingly using agricultural helicopters to spray chemical pesticides and toxic substances to destroy agricultural lands near the borderline east of the Gaza Strip. As a result, crops have been destroyed, as well as livestock lost, 70% of which exists on the borderline. In addition, farmers had to leave their lands during the two-month Israeli attack in Summer 2014 causing serious material damage to approximately 71,000 hectares of land. Due to the fall in imports and the low demand on crops, prices extremely rose and many families faced difficulties securing food while struggling with excessively high prices.

25,000 dunums

of land have been lost to the buffer zone, making up 30% of agricultural land in Gaza.

430 attacks

against civilians and farmers in the buffer zone by the Israeli forces have been reported, resulting in the killing of seven citizens.

140,000 dunums

of land have been directly targeted by Israel, destroying over 70 water wells, and razing almost 34,500 agricultural dunums.

550 million dollars

have been lost due to damages caused for the agricultural sector during Israel’s 2014 Summer attack.

Gaza Fishing Industry

The Oslo Accord, which was signed by both the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Israel in 1994, allows Palestinian fishermen to sail until 20 nautical miles (around 37 KM) off Gaza’s shores. However, Palestinians are always prevented from reaching up to that distance, while currently fishermen are allowed to sail only at 3-6 nautical miles at best.

95%

of Gaza fishermen live below the poverty line.

3-6 nautical miles

make up the area allowed for fishing.

200 sailboats

and five boats with small engines are inoperable due to the lack of the necessary equipment.

4,000 fishermen

The number of registered fishermen in Gaza has fallen from 10,000 to 4000 since 2000.

The Israeli Military Operations in the Gaza Strip During the Blockade

During the three military operations launched on the densely populated Gaza, Israel has used more than 24,000 tons of explosives.

The Gaza Strip is regarded as one of the most densely populated areas on earth while being hermetically sealed off on its both borders. The Israeli military operation, conducted between 2008–2014, claimed the lives of 3,745 Palestinians and wounded 17,441.

Israel did not only fail to take the necessary measures to spare the civilian population but also targeted densely populated areas, causing a large number of civilian casualties.

Operation Protective Edge, the third of hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed factions in the Gaza Strip in less than six years, caused unprecedented damage to infrastructure resulting in a dire economic situation with nearly half the population unemployed.

2014 Offensive

5,755 housing units

have been rebuilt so far out of 11,000 that were completely destroyed.

29,000 persons (more than 5,500 families)

have been displaced and are homeless to date since the last Israeli Operation in 2014

Only two-thirds were disbursed of the $500 million

needed for the reconstruction of the completely destroyed houses until August 2017.

88%

of IDPs live in rented accommodation

Repercussions of the Electricity Crisis

The ongoing, outstanding fuel and power crisis has drastically impacted providing basic services to the population of Gaza: water and sanitation, sewage, healthcare, and education.

For hospitals in Gaza, constant instability of power supply, critical lack of fuel for generators, and inadequate maintenance capacity have advanced the deterioration in the quality of provided healthcare services.

Businesses are also affected by this crisis. The high cost of running a generator has forced some small businesses, especially startups, to close within a short period of time.

30%

of Gaza residents are deprived of their right to water as a result of the constant electricity outage.

2,000 persons

with physical disabilities live under the threat of pressure ulcers due to the inability to inflate their air mattresses, as a result of the electricity crisis

5,100 persons

suffering from chronic respiratory problems are at risk of complications, including death, if oxygen and evaporation devices stopped, also due to power blackouts.

The electricity crisis has forced hospitals to postpone non-emergency surgeries, thus increasing the estimated waiting period to 10-15 months compared to 5-8 months in the first quarter of 2017.

Act now to end the Blockade!

Information Sources

  • Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor
  • The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
  • The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
  • Gisha | Legal Center for Freedom of Movement
  • B'Tselem | The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
  • Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics website
  • The Palestinian National Bureau for Gaza Reconstruction
  • Gaza Chamber of Commerce and industry
  • Rehabilitation Sector in the Palestinian NGO Network
  • Fishermen's Union
  • Union of Agricultural Work Committees
  • Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture